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The measurement of heat release, which is important to define in suppression and extinguishment, is typically referred to in British thermal units (BTU). A BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. A BTU is equal to 1,054 Joules (J) or 252 calories. A calorie is the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. Any of these units of measurement may be used in scientific discussions of heat and fire development, but typically, BTU is the term most often associated with things like heat release.
Heat release and other common terms you will see in discussions regarding the development and absorption of heat are typically issued in BTU. For example, the burning rate of a fuel can be defined in the amount of BTU being released at a certain time in the growth of a fire. If a fire is releasing energy and growing, to stop the growth of the fire, a measured amount of water has to absorb the BTU being released. This is a simple principle that starts to define sprinkler system design.
© Hughes Associates,Inc. 2012